Political analysts say the questions being raised about the timing of the arrest of former KwaZulu-Natal MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu underscore the fierce contesting of leadership positions within the ANC in the province.
Mabuyakhulu was arrested this week on charges of corruption linked to a R28 million tender to hold the North Sea Jazz Festival in Durban in 2012.
The national leadership of the ANC recently set aside the results of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial leadership election held in 2016 after it was challenged in court.
Mabuyakhulu was then appointed convenor of the task team set up to organise new party elections within the next few months.
Political analyst Bheki Mngomezulu says Mabuyakhulu’s arrest may cast doubt on his integrity and hurt his camp’s chances in the election.
“If that was to happen it will definitely mean that the squabbles that are currently underway in KwaZulu-Natal will not subside because those who are from Senzo Mchunu’s side will not take this thing lying down and then of course, those who are in Sihle Zikalala’s camp might be rejoicing at this development.”
Meanwhile, Hawks Spokesperson Simphiwe Mhlongo has denied that the timing of the investigation and arrest were politically motivated.
Mhlongo has pointed out that the case was actually referred to them by the provincial government after alleged irregularities were noticed concerning a R28 million tender to hold the North Sea Jazz Festival in Durban in 2012.
Mhlongo says the Hawks completed their investigation first before bringing the suspects to book.
“The issue of political association is not the thing that the Hawks are taking into consideration when they are investigating. Remember, the Hawks’s mandate is to investigate serious corruption, serious organised crime, and serious commercial crime without any fear or favor of who the suspects are.”